Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card review: Great for travel and beyond
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card
CardRatings Editor's Analysis: Pros & Cons
- Bank of America will basically pay you to carry this card thanks to up to $100 in statement credit each year to cover your incidental airline fees (plus, you can receive up to $100 to cover your Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® application fee).
- You can earn 50,000 bonus points – worth $500 – after you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days of opening your account.
- If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards client, you can get a 25%-75% rewards bonus on every purchase.
- This is a decent card for people who eat out and travel regularly – particularly if they also happen to be Bank of America Preferred Rewards clients; however, if dining out and traveling aren't where you spend your money, you'll be better off looking at a different tiered rewards card.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- BofA Premium Rewards® Benefits
- BofA Premium Rewards® Airline Credit
- BofA Premium Rewards® Foreign Transaction Fee
- BofA Premium Rewards® Travel Insurance
- BofA Premium Rewards® Potential Downsides
- BofA Premium Rewards® Cardholder Scores
- How BofA Premium Rewards® Compares to Other Cards
- Is BofA Premium Rewards® a Good Card?
If you like the idea of a card that rewards your passion for travel and dining out, but you don’t necessarily want a strictly travel rewards credit card, the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card is a great place to start.
The welcome bonus is 50,000 points, or the equivalent of $500, after you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days that the account is open. On an ongoing basis, you can look forward to two points earned on every dollar spent on travel and dining purchases, and unlimited 1.5 points per dollar on all other purchases. There's also no limit to the points you can earn, and your points don't expire. Those points can be redeemed for cash back as a statement credit, as gift cards, or for purchases in the Bank of America Travel Center, deposited into eligible Bank of America accounts, or credited to eligible Merrill accounts.
While the flexible redemption options are certainly a perk, if traveling is your thing you're also sure to appreciate the numerous travel features associated with this card. For instance, you’ll save with up to $100 in an airline incidentals statement credit annually (more details on this below), as well as up to $100 in statement credit for your TSA Pre✓® or Global Entry application fee.
The card does carry a $95 annual fee, however, the right person for the card will reap benefits that more than offset the fee.
Furthermore, if you happen to be a Bank of America account holder, your rewards earning gets substantially better. This card is eligible for the Preferred Rewards program with the bank. Through the program, customers who maintain a certain account balance across their eligible Bank of America or Merrill accounts will receive bonus cash back – anywhere from an extra 25-75% – on every purchase. If you qualify for the Gold tier of the Preferred Rewards program, for instance, making a $100 travel purchase will earn you the base 200 points (two points per $1 on travel) plus an additional 50 points for being a Preferred Rewards Gold tier client. If you do the math, that means you could earn up to 3.5 points per $1 on travel and dining purchases and up to 1.75 points per $1 on all other purchases if you qualify for the highest Preferred Rewards tier. Not a bad earning rate at all.
- Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel
- Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
- Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
- Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
- Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 10+ travel loyalty programs
- No foreign transaction fees
Airline travelers can save up to $200 thanks to two statement credits offered by the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card.
The first is the Airline Incidental Statement Credit. It provides a credit of up to $100 each year for expenses such as lounge access, in-flight services, seat upgrades and baggage fees. The credit is automatically applied to your statement after a qualifying purchase has been made.
Customers also get an Airport Security Statement Credit once every four years. This credit covers up to $100 of the cost of TSA Pre✓® or Global Entry. Global entry costs $100, so with this credit, it would be totally covered, and if you have Global Entry membership, you'll be covered for TSA Pre✓® as well. If you don't want Global Entry membership, you can apply for TSA Pre✓® which is $85, so again, the credit covers it, but if you can qualify for Global Entry you might as well apply for that instead since it gets you membership to both all for one fee.
The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card has a lot of good perks for travelers, including no foreign transaction fees on purchases made abroad. Many cards charge around 3% on all foreign transactions, which might not seem like much, but can add up in a hurry if you travel internationally often.
Think about it this way: if you take your family of five on an international vacation, and budget $4,000, you'll end up spending an extra $120 just on foreign transaction fees. If you travel with the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® card though, that's money you'll keep in your pocket. So instead of spending $4,120 at the end of the trip, you'd stay in budget, only spending $4,000.
Especially if you're a frequent international traveler, this benefit has a lot of money-saving power.
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card provides valuable travel insurance that can help cover costs should your trip be delayed or cancelled or your baggage be delayed, lost or stolen.
In the event your travel is delayed more than 12 hours because of a covered hazard, the card will pay for reasonable expenses of up to $500 per ticket purchased for you and eligible family members. If your trip is cancelled or interrupted for a covered reason, you may receive up to $5,000 per person to pay for non-refundable expenses. These may include passenger fares, hotel rooms and tour fees.
As for baggage, you can receive up to $100 a day, for five days, if your luggage is misdirected or delayed for more than six hours. This perk is intended to reimburse travelers for essential items such as clothing. Should your luggage be lost or stolen, the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® card will provide reimbursement for it and its contents.
The card also provides assistance services that can connect you to necessary resources in the event you encounter an emergency while traveling. Should you or your family require an emergency evacuation because of injury or illness, your card benefits include coverage for medical and transportation costs.
When traveling with this card, you can rest assured at the car rental counter as well. The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® provides auto rental collision damage waiver for car rentals, which provides you with reimbursement in case of damage due to collision or theft. Coverage is supplemental to and in excess of other insurance, and you must decline the collision/loss damage waiver offered by the auto rental agency.
The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card offers some solid benefits, but those benefits are really best for those who travel and dine out often. If that doesn't sound like your lifestyle, you're unlikely to realize the full benefits of this card and you might even have some trouble offsetting the annual fee. Sure, you can still earn points and redeem them for cash back, but there are cards that don't charge an annual fee and feature higher rewards earning in other categories, like gas or groceries, and may be more your speed. As with any credit card, you'll want to honestly consider your spending habits and goals to determine if this card is best for you.
Plus, keep in mind that this card will truly perform to its full potential for existing Bank of America account holders who qualify for the Preferred Rewards program.
CardRatings conducts a survey annually to learn what actual cardholders think of their cards. Here are the results:
|2020 Scores||2019 Scores|
|Rewards Program Satisfaction||8.2||8.3|
|Likelihood of Continuing to Use||8.6||8.8|
|Recommend to a Friend/Colleague||8.2||8.2|
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred®
Neither card requires its cardholders to have brand loyalty in order to reap the rewards of its benefits. Flexibility is key and both cards offer it with redemption, although the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card will get you more bang for your buck if you redeem for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® program where your points are worth 25% more. That means that, although the welcome bonus rewards offers seem similar, Chase’s 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months is actually worth up to $750 when redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards®, while the Bank of America welcome offer will get you the equivalent of $500 after your spend $3,000 in the first 90 days. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card also charges a $95 annual fee.
Another thing to keep in mind is that your Ultimate Rewards® points earned with the Preferred® card can be combined with Ultimate Rewards® points you earn with other Chase cards in the program; therefore, if you already have a card in the Ink or Freedom families, you might be better off with Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Furthermore, Ultimate Rewards® points don’t require brand loyalty to a particular hotel or airline, BUT Chase does partner with several airline and hotel loyalty programs to which you can transfer your points and possibly see their value increase dramatically.
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Although they both award points and travel credits, the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® have significant differences.
Chase Sapphire Reserve® is one of the best luxury cards available, but comes at a high cost: $550 annually. Though pricey, the card offers a number of valuable perks such as $300 in travel credits, free lounge access, Global Entry and TSA Pre✓® fee reimbursement, and travel insurance that will cover up to $20,000 for a cancelled or interrupted trip. Plus, there are no foreign transaction fees and points are worth 50% more when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
If you can't justify the price tag for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® card is a solid choice. Its annual fee is much lower, and you receive $200 in travel credits as well as travel insurance protections.
While both cards offer a 50,000 point bonus for new cardholders, be aware that these points have different spending requirements and values. To receive the welcome bonus for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you'll need to spend $4,000 on purchases within three months of opening your account. The 50,000 points you receive have a value of up to $750 when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. The 50,000 points offered by Bank of America® Premium Rewards® have a $500 value, but you only need to spend $3,000 within the first 90 days to receive them.
As far as ongoing rewards goes, the Reserve® card earns 3X points on travel immediately after earning the $300 travel credit, 3X points on dining at restaurants, and 1X point on all other purchases.
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® vs. Cash Rewards
The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card is another Bank of America credit card that rewards your loyalty to the bank with rewards bonuses, and this one even allows you the flexibility to choose a category in which you'll earn the highest cash back rewards from among six options: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings.
With the Bank of America® Cash Rewards card, you earn 3% back in a category of your choosing from the list of six above. You can change your category once each calendar month. You'll also earn 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs on up to $2,500 combined spending in your choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter (then 1%), plus 1% back on all your other purchases.
Given that both travel and dining are 3% category options, you could structure this card to reward you similarly to how the Premium card works, but you won't be getting the airline fee statement credit or the Global Entry and TSA Pre✓® application credit. Importantly, you should also note that this card DOES charge foreign transactions fees: 3% of each purchase while abroad.
Preferred Rewards clients will also receive a 25-75% cash back bonus on each transaction depending on your tier with this card.
The Bank of America® Cash Rewards card also features a welcome offer: Earn a $200 online cash rewards bonus after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
The best applicant for the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card is a person who budgets their money wisely so as to reap the benefits and not waste them. This person will enjoy traveling and dining out and seeing their points grow just for using this card for everyday purchases. The perfect cardholder will not have one brand of hotel or airline to which they are loyal, but WILL hold an account with Bank of America – preferably one (or several) that qualify you for the Preferred Rewards program.
Survey Methodology: CardRatings commissioned Op4G in September and October 2020 to conduct surveys among 1,746 cardholders nationwide. CardRatings website analytics from Jan. 1, 2020-Aug. 31, 2020 were used to determine a selection of the most popular cards and additional cards were added to add survey breadth. Responses to each of nine questions were given on a scale of 1-10 and respondents' scores were then averaged under broad topics. To determine the overall score, responses from questions 1-8 were summed and the answer to "How likely are you to recommend this card to a friend, coworker or family member?" was double weighted.